China Eyes Market Expansion in Europe for Electric Vehicles

A booming electric vehicle sector has made Europe a prime market for Chinese automakers seeking to expand their market in western countries.

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Smaller electric vehicles have become increasingly popular in China, with the Wuling Hongguang Mini racking up an average sales of around 30,000 per month, making it the highest-selling EV in the country for almost a year.

Having experienced rapid growth locally, Chinese automakers have been steadily positioning themselves in western countries in the hope of also finding success abroad.

In fact, several Chinese automakers have started to make their presence felt in Europe. Great Wall Motor as well as electric vehicle startups like Xpeng and Leapmotor, participated in the International Motor Show (IAA) Mobility 2021 in Munich last September. Meanwhile, Nio Inc., another electric vehicle startup, has already taken the first steps into this venture by opening a showroom in Norway last October.

Located in Oslo, Norway, the first-ever Nio House in Europe, has started selling its ES8 electric sports utility vehicle. As with other European countries, Norway has been investing heavily in green technology, hence the interest in strengthening working relationships with Chinese car brands.

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As reported by Reuters, one in every nine new cars sold in Europe in 2020 was an electric or a plug-in hybrid vehicle. Sales for low-emission cars have surged in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affecting vehicle sales. Out of the 11.6 million new cars that were registered in the EU, Norway, Iceland and Britain, 11% were comprised of fully electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

It’s important to note that the continued demand for EVs has resulted in a 12% drop in average CO2 emissions, which is highly encouraging for environment-conscious nations.

While European automakers have always been greatly associated with the countries they originated from, the current interest in opening up to foreign automakers, Chinese car brands, in this case, is very new.

Chinese automakers have been steadily improving their car models through the years and their electric vehicles have become highly competitive. Not only are Chinese electric vehicles significantly more affordable compared to European electric vehicles, but they also have other advantages like the best battery technology (cobalt processing and lithium-ion) and a lot of connectivity technology that is important to electric vehicles like AI and 5G. Another important advantage that Chinese automakers have is that they are greatly supported by their government in becoming the world leader in manufacturing electric cars.

As such, EV companies in China have grown to around 300, which is also seen as a challenge as the market may get saturated due to rapid production. Time will tell if demand will be able to meet the rise in supply, whether in China or in western markets.


Written by Abby Rebong